Week 6 was a really weird one for fantasy football. Three of the top five fantasy quarterbacks were Matt Ryan, Ryan Tannehill and Carson Wentz. Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo all finished in the top 10 in scoring as well after posting duds in Week 5.
Kenyan Drake, D’Andre Swift, Ronald Jones II and Miles Gaskin were among the top-seven scoring running backs. Those seven backs were also the only ones to finish with more than 15 fantasy points in PPR scoring.
For wide receivers, Justin Jefferson lead all scorers, Julio Jones scored two touchdowns after failing to find the end zone up to that point and Christian Kirk was the fourth-best scorer with just two catches.
If that wasn’t weird enough, three of the top five tight ends for the week were on fewer than 10 percent of ESPN rosters.
Bottom line: the NFL is difficult to predict and working the waiver wire is important in fantasy football. Let’s get to my favorite players to target this week.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, CAR Somehow, Bridgewater has entered into QB1 consideration. He struggled against a top-tier Bears defense, but before that, he turned in two 20-plus point outings. For the third time this season, he also rushed for more than 25 yards. Now, he gets to face a Saints defense allowing the 3rd-most points to opposing quarterbacks. If you are looking for a bye-week fill-in, Bridgewater is one of the best options available.
Kyle Allen, QB, WAS Allen still feels like a placeholder in Washington. As long as he is the starter though, he has some fantasy value. Especially going up against a Cowboys defense that cannot seem to stop a nosebleed, much less the opposing quarterback. I wouldn’t consider him a top-tier option, but given what Kyler Murray just did to this defense, I think Allen could be a fill-in for a bye week.
Carson Wentz, QB, PHI He might be facing a tough matchup with a steadily improving Giants’ defense, but Wentz had an even worse matchup against the Ravens. He has worked magic over the past four weeks with essentially no supporting cast. It is hard to know when that magic might run out. Zach Ertz and Miles Sanders will both be out for a bit. On a short week, it might be really tough for Wentz to get this offense up to speed. If Lane Johnson returns, that should help get things back on track. Wentz is still a fringe starting option in fantasy.
Boston Scott, RB, PHI With the aforementioned injury to Miles Sanders, Boston Scott suddenly is in line for a huge uptick in usage. He faces a Giants’ defense that has struggled to stop the run so far, ranking 22nd in fantasy point allowed to opposing running backs. Scott has not produced much, but he could be considered as a flex option.
J.D. McKissic, RB, WAS Washington has struggled to run the ball this year, but McKissic is carving out a role as a receiver in this offense. He has registered at least six receptions in his past three games. Facing a Dallas defense that has struggled to contain opposing running backs. He also earned eight carries in Week 6. 14 total touches is more than a good enough reason to add him to your roster, even if it is just as depth at the position.
Lamical Perine, RB, NYJ With Le’Veon Bell now in Kansas City, I expect Perine to continue to carve out a larger role in this Jets’ offense. It is not a unit I would recommend investing in heavily, but if you are in need of some running back depth with potential upside, Perine is a decent option. He faces a decent Bills defense in Week 7, but he has the potential to take over the starting job from Frank Gore as the season wears on.
Brian Hill, RB, ATL Perhaps it was a product of having a huge lead against the Vikings, but the Falcons relied on Brian Hill a lot more in the win. He finished with 10 carries and caught a pair of passes out of the backfield. A fumble marred his day and he was not overly effective running the ball, but the usage is encouraging. I wouldn’t place a high priority on him, but with a shakeup to the coaching staff, Hill could continue to see touches if Gurley continues to be ineffective.
Keelan Cole Sr., WR, JAX Cole benefits from being part of an offense that has to throw the ball a lot because Jacksonville is almost always trailing. Garbage-time fantasy points still count just the same. He had a huge Week 6 against Detroit, and while it is unlikely you can count on him to replicate that, Gardner Minshew is looking his way enough for Cole to stay fantasy relevant. He has earned at least five targets in every game this season, including a season-high of nine on Sunday. If you are looking for some wide receiver depth, Cole is a worthwhile option.
Demarcus Robinson, WR, KC With Sammy Watkins out against his former team, Robinson stepped up to fill the void. He hauled in five catches for 69 yards facing a solid Bills defense. Robinson goes up against a Broncos defense that struggled to contain opposing receivers prior to their Week 5 bye. With Watkins likely out again in Week 7 and the Jets on the horizon for Week 8, Robinson could be a flex option for the next couple of weeks if you are hurting at receiver.
Christian Kirk, WR, ARI I don’t usually put players who hauled in just two catches on this list. However, one of Kirk’s catches went for 80 yards and both resulted in touchdowns. I’m also not buying that Kyler Murray is going to finish too many games this season with nine completed passes. If you are looking for a boom-or-bust flex option this week, look no further than Kirk. He faces the best fantasy matchup he could in a Seahawks defense giving up 23.2 more points to opposing receivers than the league average.
Mike Williams, WR, LAC Keenan Allen is questionable heading into Week 7’s meeting with the Jaguars. Even if Allen does suit up, I would be interested in grabbing Williams. After Allen exited against the Saints, Williams posted monster numbers. Now he gets a Jaguars secondary that has given up a ton of points to opposing receivers in recent weeks. If Allen starts, consider Williams a flex play. If Allen sits, bump Williams into the WR2.
Dalton Schultz, TE, DAL Finding fantasy tight ends is really difficult right now. While Schultz is far from a fantasy star, he is a serviceable option for managers in need of a bye-week fill-in. Outside of a Week 5 dud vs. the Giants, he has caught at least four passes in each game since he took over as the starter. Even with the change at quarterback, it is clear Andy Dalton trust him enough to look his direction. Facing a Washington defense that has surrendered the fifth-most points to opposing tight ends, I would feel comfortable starting Schultz this week.
Anthony Firkser, TE, TEN Frisker’s value is totally contingent on the health of Jonnu Smith. Before Week 6, the 25-year-old had accounted for just six points in PPR scoring. When Smith went down against Houston, Firkser racked up 25 fantasy points. Ryan Tannehill loves throwing to his tight ends. He might not have a great matchup against a talented Steelers defense, but if Firkser is starting, he has plenty of fantasy value to include him in your lineup.
Trey Burton, TE, IND Since returning from IR in Week 4, Burton has seen at least five targets in each of the Colts’ past three games. He took it to another level in Week 6 with two touchdowns. He is not going to challenge the George Kittles or Travis Kelces of the world, but Burton is some really smart depth to add at the position with the potential to be a starter down the line. He is on a bye in Week 7, but that shouldn’t stop you from stashing him on your bench.
Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI Here is another tight end where you might want to get ahead of the curve. Goedert has yet to be activated from the IR, but he eligible to be starting this week. With Zach Ertz out for three-to-four weeks, Goedert could be a premier starting option as soon as this week, if not, in Week 8 against the Cowboys. If you are willing to gamble on his upside, Goedert is worth stashing on your bench or possibly in an IR spot on your roster if you league has any.
What a week! From start to finish, it was a wild slate of football games. There were some shocking results. Denver shutdown New England for a surprising victory and Tampa Bay blew the doors off Green Bay. There were some thrilling finishes as well. Tennessee needed overtime to hold off Houston. Washington and Philadelphia came up short after failing to convert two-point attempts. We also finally got some Tua Time!
The Fins shutout the Jets to continue New York’s embarrassing season. Tua Tagovailoa saw his first NFL action late in the game and had a truly wholesome moment after playing football for the first time since he suffered his devastating injury in 2019. Following the win, Tua walked back onto the field, he sat down on the 15-yard line and he FaceTimed his parents. They could not be there to watch him play because of the pandemic. It felt like a really relatable moment for all of us still struggling with the impact of COVID-19.
For the third straight week, the team that I moved atop the rankings lost and opened the door for a new team at No. 1. This week offered a massive shakeup the pecking order. Pittsburgh tries its hand at the top. I have a feeling this type of chaos will not stop any time soon.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 5-0 (Last Week: 5) Won 38-7 vs. Cleveland Beating the Browns, doesn’t get you to be No. 1. Winning by 31 to stay among the NFL’s final three unbeaten teams does. It is hard to find a clear weakness for this team. They are deep at the skill positions, block well and spread the ball around on offense. Defensively, this might be the best unit in the NFL. Only the Ravens are allowing fewer points per game at this point, but the Steelers are allowing way fewer yards per game and forcing more turnovers per game. Pittsburgh now has a huge showdown between undefeated teams with the rescheduled Tennessee game up next. Baltimore is after that.
2. Seattle Seahawks: 5-0 (Last Week: 2) Bye Week Without playing Seattle cemented its spot atop the NFC. Green Bay suffered its first loss of the year. Los Angeles falling to San Francisco extends Seattle’s lead atop the NFC West as well. Few teams are playing as well as the Seahawks have so far this season. If the defense can get things together on the bye and even improve to the league average, Seattle will be a Super Bowl contender. That defense is still concerning though. It ranks 32nd in yards allowed per game and 18th in points allowed per game.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: 5-1 (Last Week: 3) Won 26-17 at Buffalo Kansas City put its first loss in 11 months behind it with a convincing victory. It wasn’t a dazzling victory, but the Chiefs controlled the clock with a devastating ground game. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a big night, finishing with 161 rushing yards. As a team, KC finished with 245 yards running the ball, which was more yards than it did passing. Patrick Mahomes was still his same, lethal self, taking care of the football and tossing a pair of touchdown passes. We will see this team playing late into January at least, barring a slew of injuries.
4. Green Bay Packers: 4-1 (Last Week: 1) Lost 38-10 at Tampa Bay Well that was incredibly short lived. The Packers only get one week atop the power rankings before they crash back down. Aaron Rodgers struggled, the running game was abandoned and the defense collapsed. It was honestly just a worst-case scenario on both sides of the ball for Green Bay. This was shades of San Francisco last season. The Packers simply cannot find a way to contend with the league’s elite defenses.
5. Baltimore Ravens: 5-1 (Last Week: 4) Won 30-28 at Philadelphia Baltimore looked to have this game all wrapped up. Leading 24-6 on the road, the Ravens took their foot off the gas a bit too soon. The Eagles managed 22 points in the fourth quarter and were a botched two-point conversion away from tying the ball game. In addition to the defense’s inability to really close things out against the most injured offense in the NFL, Lamar Jackson needs some help. He went MVP mode with 108 yards rushing on just nine carries, but Ravens’ running backs managed just 2.7 yards per rush on their 28 attempts. The passing game was also inconsistent. This team needs a go-to playmaker outside of Jackson. So far, no one has stepped up to fill that role.
6. Tennessee Titans: 5-0 (Last Week: 7) Won 42-36 vs. Houston Divisional games are always tricky. Tennessee learned that, but just managed to hang on against Houston. Derrick Henry turned in one of the best performances of any running back in the past decade. 264 total yards and two touchdowns is incredibly impressive. Ryan Tannehill balled out as well with four touchdown passes. The Titans can score. It is up to the defense start making some stops. Deshaun Watson carved up the secondary even though the Texans cannot run the ball. Houston also went three for three on fourth down and Tennessee didn’t force a turnover. This was an important win, but there is a lot Mike Vrabel’s squad still needs to focus on.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-2 (Last Week: 16) Won 38-10 vs. Green Bay After an ugly loss on a Thursday night, Tampa Bay finally looked the part of the Super Bowl contender many expected at the beginning of the season. This defense might just be the best in the NFL, allowing the fewest yards per game through six weeks. Ranking them ahead of the Bears is more about what the Buccaneers look like at full strength. Getting Chris Godwin back helped the offense for sure. Mike Evans also looked a bit healthier. Smacking the previously undefeated Packers by 28 is a huge step in the right direction for Bruce Arians. A really interesting matchup with the Raiders is up next.
8. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 10) Bye Week This feels like where there is a clear drop off from the NFL’s elite to whatever you want to label the next tier. That’s not to say the Raiders are locked into this spot. Las Vegas is the only team to beat Kansas City since this past November. That’s a pretty big notch in their belt. However, losses to the Patriots and Bills show there is work to do. The defense still has a long way to go. It ranks 26th in yards per pass and 25th in yards per run allowed. Most teams know they can at least shutdown one facet of the opposing offense. So far, the Raiders have not shown the ability to slow down either. That is going to hold Las Vegas back as the season wears on.
9. New Orleans Saints: 3-2 (Last Week: 11) Bye Week New Orleans gets a much needed week off with a chance to get healthy at a few key positions. Michael Thomas should finally return. Deonte Harris should be back returning punts as well and Janoris Jenkins will bolster the secondary. In addition to getting healthy, Sean Payton needs to refocus the team as a whole. The Saints have not felt like a Super Bowl contender up to this point. Even in their wins, New Orleans has not looked convincing. On one hand, being 3-2 without playing their best football is somewhat reassuring, assuming they can flip the switch and start playing much better.
10. Chicago Bears: 5-1 (Last Week 15) Won 23-16 at Carolina Give this defense credit. Khalil Mack and company got after Teddy Bridgewater all afternoon. Chicago racked up four sacks and had him scrambling quite a bit. The defense also held Mike Davis, who had been playing really well in Christian McCaffrey’s absence, to just 2.9 yards per carry. This truly feels like a championship caliber defense. Unfortunately, the offense is still suspect. Nick Foles has looked nothing shy of terrible so far. He has one reliable receiver in Allen Robinson. The running game is basically non-existent. The Bears managed 63 yards and 2.5 yards per carry against a defense that was giving up 133 yards per game entering the contest. As Foles said, winning ugly is better than losing pretty, but at some point, it would be nice to see the offense put things together.
11. Buffalo Bills: 4-2 (Last Week: 8) Lost 26-17 vs. Kansas City I know I asked it before, but I will ask it again: What happened to the Buffalo defense of 2019? The Bills allowed 103 yards per game last season, good for 9th in the league. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and company ran all over the defense on Monday to the tune of 245 yards. Patrick Mahomes wasn’t quiet either, going 21-for-26 passing with 225 yards and two touchdowns. Buffalo only managed to sack him once. Offensively, it was definitely a lackluster showing. Josh Allen only competed 14 passes and once again the running backs failed to produce much. After a great start, it is important for the Bills to bounce back now and not let this streak get much longer.
12. Los Angeles Rams: 4-2 (Last Week: 6) Lost 24-16 vs. San Francisco Will the real Rams offense please stand up? Week 4 saw this team finish with just 17 points. A week ago, L.A. dropped 30 on Washington. Back home against a reeling San Francisco defense, Sean McVay’s group was held to just 16 points. At 4-2, there is no reason to panic, but it would be nice for Jared Goff to stabilize the offense. That 2018 season is starting to feel like a really long time ago.
13. Arizona Cardinals: 4-2 (Last Week: 13) Won 38-10 at Dallas Arizona took care of business on Monday Night Football with a convincing performance. Yes, it came against a terrible Cowboys team, but the Cardinals dominated. Kyler Murray struggled a lot throwing the football against possibly the worst secondary in the NFL. He completed just nine passes in the contest despite throwing it 24 times. Murray did make plenty of plays with his legs though and the defense made sure he didn’t need to be perfect. The Cards defense force three turnovers and finished with sacks, even without Chandler Jones. Kliff Kingsbury’s crew is gaining momentum.
14. Indianapolis Colts: 4-2 (Last Week: 14) Won 31-27 vs. Cincinnati Indianapolis looked like they might just unraveling following its loss to Cleveland. Cincinnati jumped out to a 21-0 lead. It felt like that was when Philip Rivers and company finally woke up. The Colts were extremely lucky to be facing an inexperienced team like the Bengals. Otherwise, this would have been a blowout. The defense locked down and gave Rivers a chance to lead a comeback. Give him credit for successfully seeing it through, but it is a little concerning that he needed to lead a three-score comeback against a one-win team in the first place.
15. New England Patriots: 2-3 (Last Week: 9) Lost 18-12 vs. Denver What in the world was that? If you knew the Patriots kept the Broncos out of the end zone, you would have assumed New England won comfortably. Bill Belichick is the king of bye weeks after all and the team had an extra week to prep. Yet, Cam Newton returned and somehow the offense looked much worse than it did even before the bye week. Newton was successful with his legs, but two interceptions and four sacks taken tanked the passing game. The defense did it’s job, forcing two interceptions and holding Denver to six field goals. Make no mistake, this is a setback for the Patriots. I think they will turn it around, but this was a concerning loss.
16. Miami Dolphins: 3-3 (Last Week: 17) Won 24-0 vs. New York Brian Flores can add first shutout of the 2020 season to his resume. There should probably be an asterisk next to it indicating the shutout came against the Joe Flacco-led Jets’ offense. Myles Gaskin had another solid outing as the lead back, which is a great sign for the offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick was his usual gunslinger self, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. We even got a glimpse at the future! Tua Tagovailoa saw a little bit of mop up duty at the end of the contest. Miami is suddenly one game back in the AFC East. Could this team possibly be making a playoff push a year earlier than most expected?
17. San Francisco 49ers: 3-3 (Last Week: 23) Won 24-16 at Los Angeles Talk about quieting the doubters. San Francisco bounced back big time with a vital win to staying in the playoff race. The defense made an about face, holding Los Angeles to 16 points. Jimmy Garoppolo reasserted himself as the clear leader of the offense with three touchdowns in the first half and an overall impressive performance. The offensive line deserves recognition as well, not allowing a single sack against a talented front seven. Unfortunately, the injuries keep piling up, as Raheem Mostert heads back to the IR. The 49ers face a motivated Patriots team in Week 7.
18. Cleveland Browns: 4-2 (Last Week: 12) Lost 38-7 at Pittsburgh I would not want to be Baker Mayfield right now. He had a terrible performance against Pittsburgh and got hit, a lot. The Steelers tallied eight quarterback hits in the game. The former No. 1 pick also threw two interceptions, including a horrible pick-six. He didn’t get a tremendous amount of help from his running game, but Cleveland essentially had to abandon it after trailing 24-7 at halftime. For the second time, the Browns have come up against the elite teams in the AFC North and have walked away thoroughly embarrassed. This team has a lot of growth to do.
19. Carolina Panthers: 3-3 (Last Week: 18) Lost 23-16 vs. Chicago Injuries finally caught up with Carolina. Obviously, Christian McCaffrey is still out. Eli Apple and Curtis Samuel joined him on the sideline. Teddy Bridgewater’s supporting cast totally failed him as a result. He was sacked four times and Mike Davis got stonewalled repeatedly. Bridgewater deserves some criticism as well, tossing two interceptions. Defensively, the Panthers actually took some big steps forward. Holding David Montgomery to just 2.5 yards per carry is not overly impressive, but it was a good sign of growth for a very young unit.
20. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-4 (Last Week: 20) Bye Week Los Angeles has quickly become one of the most entertaining rebuilding teams to watch. Justin Herbert has had his fair share of growing pains, but has handling the starting role well. Especially when you consider that he has missed Austin Ekeler and, at times, Keenan Allen, Herbert has been better than advertised. Defensively, the Chargers are close, but not quite there yet. They have some talented edge rushers, but that has not translated to defensive success. However, L.A. gets a very favorable matchup against the Jaguars next.
21. Atlanta Falcons: 1-5 (Last Week: 25) Won 40-16 at Minnesota Maybe the Falcons should have cleaned house sooner if this was the response they were going to get. It helped to play a young Vikings defense, but putting up 40 is a great sign for the rest of the season. It might be a bit too late for Atlanta to really make a postseason push, but this team looked a lot more competitive in all three phases. It’s great to see Matt Ryan and Julio Jones go off, but the defense is the real key here. It got key stops on fourth down, picked off Kirk Cousins three times and held Minnesota to just 32 rushing yards. The Falcons have been incapable of stopping any up to this point, so this is a good sign. Now interim coach Raheem Morris needs to find a way to build on it.
22. Houston Texans: 1-5 (Last Week: 24) Lost 42-36 at Tennessee Get Deshaun Watson some help! He posted a dominant 93.2 QBR and his team lost in overtime without getting the ball. If that’s not a compelling reason to revisit NFL overtime rules, I don’t know what is. Back to Watson. He played a much smarter game, avoiding the risks he took the week before, but still could not overcome the Texans’ defensive deficiencies. After watching David Johnson run the ball 19 times for just 57 yards, Houston fans probably want to fire Bill O’Brien again. It is going to be a long few seasons while the Texans work to turn the team around.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-4-1 (Last Week: 21) Lost 30-28 vs. Baltimore Honestly, you could take most of what I just wrote about Deshaun Watson and apply it to Carson Wentz. No, Wentz is not as good as Watson, but if I am going to criticize Watson’s supporting cast, I need to rip Wentz’s apart. Wentz was sacked six times. His starting wide receivers are Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward and John Hightower. His starting running back became Boston Scott after Miles Sanders exited with an injury. Zach Ertz is out for three-to-four weeks as well. Four of his original five starting offensive lineman were also hurt. Somehow, Wentz staged a massive comeback bid, coming up just a two-point conversion short of forcing overtime. I know every team is battling injuries this season, but it seems like the Eagles are dealing with more than any other team. After several seasons of injuries at key positions, it might be time for the organization to look into why it keeps happening.
24. Detroit Lions: 2-3 (Last Week: 26) Won 34-16 at Jacksonville The Lions built an early lead and held onto it! This is some of the best defense Detroit has played all season. It started with shutting down the run game, holding Jacksonville to just 44 yards on the ground. Matt Patricia’s team also came up with two turnovers as well. Even if this is the type of performance we would expect from the Lions facing one of the worst offenses in the league, it is important that they met expectations. That is something they have struggled to do quite a bit this season.
25. Denver Broncos: 2-3 (Last Week: 28) Won 18-12 at New England Drew Lock was back in action, but honestly that didn’t really seem to matter. Denver failed to score a touchdown and Lock looked awful. He completed under 50 percent of his passes and threw two frustrating interceptions. He kept offering the Patriots a way back into the game. Thankfully, the defense played lights out. Between the four sacks, three forced turnovers and five tackles for loss, it was one of the best showings we have seen from the Broncos in years. Imagine how good this team could be if the offense got on track.
26. Minnesota Vikings: 1-5 (Last Week: 19) Lost 40-16 vs. Atlanta Any optimism I had about this team after a great showing despite the final result against Seattle evaporated on Sunday. Kirk Cousins had a nightmare performance and the ground game shockingly disappeared. Between Cousins’ three interceptions and the Vikings averaging just 2.5 yards per carry, it was rough afternoon. The secondary looked lost as well. Matt Ryan played well, but his receivers were also routinely wide open. On the bright side, Minnesota succeeded in stopping the run. That is little consolation when the scoreline is this lopsided.
27. Dallas Cowboys: 2-4 (Last Week: 22) Lost 38-10 vs. Arizona Jerry Jones better open up his checkbook and pay Dak Prescott whatever the hell he wants. Ezekiel Elliott looks rattled, Andy Dalton looks overmatched and the offensive line looks like a revolving door. On the other side of the ball, the Jets might even be able to score 20 points against the Cowboys defense. Somehow, Dallas still holds a playoff spot right now by virtue of leading the NFC East. There is still time for Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore to bring Andy Dalton up to speed. However, the defense needs a jolt. It might be early, but Mike Nolan’s job should be under scrutiny. There is no reason this unit should be as bad as it has been through six games.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-4-1 (Last Week: 27) Lost 31-27 at Indianapolis For about 25 minutes, it looked like the Bengals were en route to a big win over a solid AFC opponent. Instead, Cincy blew a 21-0 lead, almost before reaching halftime. Joe Burrow and the offense managed just a field goal in the final 38 minutes of the game. The inability to run the football made it very difficult to protect the lead. 2020 was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Bengals, but that does not mean that blowing massive leads does not sting.
29. New York Giants: 1-5 (Last Week: 31) Won 20-19 vs. Washington It almost pains me to move the Giants up after winning. Daniel Jones managed 112 yards passing, but did show out as a running, leading the team with 74 yards. The rest of the offense did not really do much. Devonta Freeman managed three yards per carry. Kaden Smith led the team in catches with just three receptions. Darius Slayton led the team in receiving yards despite leaving in the first half with an injury. Thankfully, this continually improving Giants defense made just enough plays to drag the offense to victory.
30. Washington: 1-5 (Last Week: 29) Lost 20-19 at New York No matter how you spin this, Washington looked terrible on Sunday. Kyle Allen played decently well, but still committed two turnovers. The running game was passable. Still, they somehow only managed 19 points and needed a game-winning drive to even have a chance. Defensively, Washington looked good, but that honestly might have been more about how bad New York was playing than how well Ron Rivera’s club was executing. This just has the feel of a lost season for this franchise.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-5 (Last Week: 30) Lost 34-16 vs. Detroit After thinking Gardner Minshew may be the answer at quarterback early in the season, I am becoming more convinced Jacksonville just needs to hit the reset button on the franchise. Just clear everyone out. Dave Caldwell should be gone. Doug Marrone and the whole coaching staff needs to go. Maybe Jay Gruden can stay. Overall, this is just a team lacking talent, and it is showing. It makes that Week 1 win over the Colts even more difficult to understand.
32. New York Jets: 0-6 (Last Week: 32) Lost 24-0 at Miami The Jets really rank 33rd in overall football power rankings at this point. I am pretty sure Clemson would be able to beat them at this point. New York would have the advantage at a few spots, but most of this Clemson roster is eventually headed to the NFL. There is no question Dabo Swinney is a better coach than Adam Gase. I honestly don’t even need to talk about how the Jets played on Sunday. Look at the scoreline, that should tell you everything you need to know. On the flip side, Clemson just hung 73 on Georgia Tech. There is a real chance the Tigers could beat the Jets if they faced off at a neutral site. I’m just hoping the Clemson-New York connection continues when the Jets use the first overall pick to take Trevor Lawrence. Knowing this franchise, they will find a way to mess it up somehow.
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I’m back with some fantasy content this week. I had to pass on writing my waiver wire column last week because life just got a bit too busy. I guess that’s what happens though when you are buying a house.
Now that I’ve got a bit more free time on my hands, I am able to dive deep into that available players tab and help you find the best players to add to your roster for this week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, MIA For the fourth straight week, Ryan Fitzpatrick put up 20-plus fantasy points. He trailed only Patrick Mahomes in Week 5 among fantasy quarterbacks. Somehow, he is available in 80% (!!!!!) of ESPN leagues. If you are refusing to pick him up because Tua Tagovailoa could take over, you are missing out. He continues to put up huge numbers and heads into a Week 6 matchup with the Jets of all teams. While New York has had some success against Philip Rivers, Nick Mullens and Brett Rypien, that defense has given up 27.2 points per game when facing Josh Allen and Kyler Murray. Expect Fitzmagic to be closer to those two.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN There are a lot of streaming options/potential Dak Prescott replacements for your lineup this week. Tannehill dazzled on Tuesday Night Football with three passing touchdowns and one more on the ground. It was against a Bills defense missing it’s best defensive player in Stephon Gilmore, but a good sign nonetheless. He faces a middle of the road Texans defense in Week 6 as well. I wouldn’t expect him to replicate his 29-point outing again, but should fill in nicely for the week if you are desperate for a new quarterback.
Justin Herbert, QB, LAC This rookie came to play. Herbert put up big numbers again against the Saints, topping 22 points for the third time in his four career starts. Now his upside is capped a little bit by the Chargers tendency to run the ball a lot, but he also tends to take a few shots downfield every game. He is heading into a bye in Week 6, but has a ton of value when he returns to action. Herbert’s next five games after the break are against the Jaguars, Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins and Jets. That is about as favorable of a fantasy stretch as you can ask for. He is still available in about 65% of ESPN leagues, but after his showing on Monday Night, he won’t stick around long.
Andy Dalton, QB, DAL There are a lot of quarterback options this week. Dalton stepped in for the injured Dak Prescott. He will be Dallas’ starter going forward. Even if he is not as talented as Prescott, Dalton has arguably the best receiving corps in the league to work with and a workhorse running back. Given that the Cowboys’ defense can’t stop anyone either, he is going to be throwing the ball a lot. He faces a tough Washington front seven behind a battered offensive line, but I still think Dalton will point up points right away.
Jared Goff, QB, LAR Turns out I recommended Goff a week too early. After a lackluster performance against the Giants, he tuned up Washington’s defense with 309 yards passing and three total touchdowns. It is hard to know which version of the Rams offense is going to show up at this point, but Goff faces a favorable matchup in Week 6 against the 49ers. Hard to imagine the 49ers being a team you want your fantasy quarterback to face, but their defense is ravaged by injuries. Ryan Fitzpatrick carved up the Niners’ secondary for the second-most points in fantasy this past week. If you are looking for a streaming option at quarterback, you could do much worse than Goff.
Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN For those of you who drafted Mattison and hung onto him this long, your patience might be rewarded. Dalvin Cook went down with a groin injury early in the second half against Seattle. Mattison finished with a staggering 20 carries, most of which came in the second half. Minnesota ranks fourth in rushing yards and third in attempts under Gary Kubiak. If Cook misses any time at all, Mattison is a borderline RB1 for every week he does. He is probably best in standard scoring leagues, but he can catch a few passes out of the backfield as well. He faces the Falcons in Week 6, who are giving up the second-most points in the NFL. If he is available, go get him.
Damien Harris, RB, NE Didn’t pick up Harris last week? It’s not too late, but you are running out of time. He had an expected bye week after his game against the Broncos was postponed, which means he will be playing the rest of the season. He has a chance to be the feature back, or as close as the Patriots will ever come to having one. He will now face the Broncos in Week 6. With Cam Newton likely to return, he could lose out on some carries, but Harris will still see enough attention to be fantasy relevant.
Chase Edmonds, RB, ARI If you are in PPR leagues, Edmonds might already be off the waiver wire. If he is still there though, he could have some spot flex value for your team. He picked on a weak Jets defense in Week 5 and faces a below average Dolphins one in Week 6. Only earning eight total touches is a bit concerning, but he was definitely the more effective running back in the Cardinals’ backfield. I will be curious to see if his role continues to increase with Kenyan Drake struggling. He is worth stashing on your roster, just in case he claims lead back responsibilities.
Chase Claypool, WR, PIT Where in the world did that come from? Destroyer of defenses Chase Claypool put up 11 more points than the next-highest scoring PPR receiver in Week 5. When Dionte Johnson went down with an injury, which has been a frequent occurrence this season, Claypool stepped up. Ben Roethlisberger seems to trust him already. While it is unlikely he will score four touchdowns again at any point this year, or maybe ever, Claypool carries value in fantasy. Even if Johnson does return for Week 6, Claypool is a big-play and red zone threat. He looks like a matchup-specific flex play at the very least.
Travis Fulgham, WR, PHI Speaking of the next highest-scoring receiver in fantasy… Proceed with caution on this one. Travis Fulgham was on exactly 0.2 percent of rosters heading into Week 5. He had a monster week though against the Steelers. With 10 catches for 152 yard and a touchdown on 13 targets, Fulgham put up WR1 type production. But was it just a flash in the pan? Desean Jackson, Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffrey should eventually return to action. Until they do though, Fulgham should hold flex value, especially in PPR leagues. You might have to sit him against the Ravens, but you could consider starting him against the Giants and Cowboys after that.
Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville It might be time to get to know Laviska Shenault Jr. The rookie from Colorado has earned at least six targets in three straight games. He racked up seven catches for 79 yards in Week 5 while facing the Texans. What makes Shenault appealing is his consistency. He has scored at least eight points in every contest under PPR scoring. D.J. Chark is battling an ankle injury, which should open up even more targets heading Shenault’s way. If he can start finding his way into the end zone, this will be a guy you want starting in your lineup every week.
Mecole Hardman, WR, KC With Sammy Watkins set to miss some time due to injury, Hardman has an opportunity to step up. He is best-suited for standard leagues given his big-play nature. Few teams can take the top off a defense like the Chiefs can. However, he is definitely a boom-or-bust type play. He has not had more four targets in four of his five games this season. If you are willing to roll the dice on him in Week 6, he should have a slightly higher floor given that his targets should increase with less competition for Patrick Mahomes’ attention.
Mike Williams, WR, LAC Williams got healthy and put up a huge statline against the Saints. He became the focus of the passing game when Keenan Allen exited with back spasms. Williams is always intriguing at his size from a fantasy perspective. He tends to draw a solid number of targets in the red zone, which creates a good floor for him. However, if Allen misses time, Williams becomes hugely valuable. However, with Los Angeles heading into a bye, Williams is nothing more than a roster stash that could help you when your other receivers are on a bye.
Eric Ebron, TE, PIT If you are in a PPR league, Ebron does carry some solid value as a high-floor tight end. For the the third straight game, he earned at least five targets. Unfortunately, he has not picked up too many yards and only managed one touchdown. Ebron does get a favorable matchup with a Browns defense allowing the sixth most points to tight ends in PPR. What would really help Ebron’s fantasy prospects would be holding onto the football. He has fumbled twice in his past three games. As far as spot starters go, Ebron is a decent option.
Irv Smith Jr., TE, MIN If you are in deeper league or look for a deep sleeper at tight end this week, Irv Smith Jr. could be a sneaky play. After back-to-back games without a catch, Smith had four for 64 yards on five targets against the Seahawks. Given how little he has produced up to this point, counting on him replicating those numbers is foolish, but he gets a great matchup with a Falcons defense allowing the second most points in fantasy to opposing tight ends. They are still 8.7 points worse than the average after allowing zero points to Panthers tight ends in Week 5 (because the Panthers don’t have a pass catching tight end they feature in this offense). He is my favorite boom-or-bust candidate of the week at the position.
If you are a fan of drama, you got lots of it in Week 5. After the Cowboys failed to reach a long-term deal with Dak Prescott during offseason, Prescott suffered a compound ankle fracture, ending his season. Conversely, Alex Smith suited up in his first NFL game since suffering a horrific leg injury of his own in November 2018. The league schedule got reorganized, undefeated teams, including the defending champs, lost and we even got Tuesday Night Football. Week 5 had a little bit of everything.
Given that it was such an unpredictable and wild week, the rankings underwent a massive overhaul, starting with a new team at the top. With injuries and uncertainty continuing to hang over this 2020 season, there is a good chance this order will change dramatically again as soon as next week.
1. Green Bay Packers: 4-0 (Last Week: 3) Bye Week This is a nice setup for the Packers. Take the week off an move atop the Power Rankings. Green Bay has been dominant through its four games and it is not at full strength yet. Davante Adams has been banged up, but should be back at 100% starting in Week 6. Eventually, Allen Lazard will be back as well. The Packers defense still could use some improvement against the run, but this secondary is quietly one of the better units in the league.
2. Seattle Seahawks: 5-0 (Last Week: 2) Won 27-26 vs. Minnesota Seattle got hot in the third quarter and scored three touchdowns in under two minutes. Outside of that stretch, the Seahawks looked outmatched against the Vikings. Russell Wilson worked a bit of late magic just to pull off a one-point win against a one-win team. The defense has been an issue all year long. However, the run defense was a strong point, up until Minnesota racked up 200 yards, even with Dalvin Cook missing the second half. Seattle was a bit lucky to stay unbeaten, but there is something to be said for showing ability to win close games.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-1 (Last Week: 1) Lost 40-32 vs. Las Vegas The streak is over. Kansas City lost its first game since November as the defense fell apart. Derek Carr racked up 346 yards and three touchdowns, including two of over 50 yards. The Chiefs are still top in the AFC West though despite the loss. Sometimes a loss like this can help refocus a team. After all, it has been almost a year since Andy Reid’s team came out on the losing end. They will get a Bills team that is out to prove it is for real after dropping its first game of 2020.
4. Baltimore Ravens: 4-1 (Last Week: 4) Won 27-3 vs. Cincinnati Baltimore reminded everyone that while Joe Burrow might be the first overall pick and the Bengals are headed in the right direction, it is going to be a few years before they can really compete in the AFC North. The Ravens sacked Burrow an outrageous seven times and held the Bengals to just 2.5 yards per carry. Add in three forced turnovers, and this looked like the defense we saw down the stretch last year. Now if only the offense could get back to it’s 2019 form.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers: 4-0 (Last Week: 7) Won 38-29 vs. Philadelphia For the first time in 41 years, the Steelers are 4-0. For a franchise that has been so consistently in the top half of the league, it is hard to believe 1979 was really the last time Pittsburgh won four straight to open the season. Winning the battle of Pennsylvania was a bit ugly at times, Miles Sanders did rip off a 74-yard TD run after all, but Chase Claypool came to the rescue. He put on a performance for the ages, complete with four touchdowns. I don’t know how this front office continue to find incredible talent at receiver in seemingly every NFL draft.
6. Los Angeles Rams: 4-1 (Last Week: 10) Won 30-10 at Washington That looked a lot better than the week before. Los Angeles blew the doors of Washington in a really impressive showing. Jared Goff had a stellar day as the offense bounced back and the defense continued its dominant start to the season. Only the Steelers have more sacks per game so far than the Rams. This is shaping up to be one hell of a fight in the NFC West.
7. Tennessee Titans: 4-0 (Last Week: 11) Won 42-16vs. Buffalo Well that was a statement win if I’ve ever seen one. Tennessee dismantled Buffalo in a rare Tuesday night game to put the league on notice. While the Titans did struggle a little bit earlier this season, this was the same team that reached the AFC Championship game and had an early lead against the Chiefs in said game. They sure looked like that against a previously undefeated Bills team. With A.J. Brown back, it is time to start respecting the Titans.
8. Buffalo Bills: 4-1 (Last Week: 5) Lost 42-16at Tennessee Missing Tre’Davious White, John Brown and Zack Moss certainly hurts, but losing by 26 is inexcusable. This was a beatdown for Buffalo and a reminder that this team still is still building. The Bills have not had a playoff win since 1995. Hopefully, a loss like this will allow them to refocus. One game hardly ever defines a season. This might just be a speed bump on the Bills’ path to postseason success. They will get a chance to bounce back in a huge way as soon as this week. Buffalo hosts Kansas City in Week 6.
9. New England Patriots: 2-2 (Last Week: 7) Bye Week New England got a very unexpected bye week, which probably threw off some preparations and planning, but will hopefully allow the team get back to full strength. It was clear the offense was not the same without Cam Newton. Stephon Gilmore hit the reserve/COVID list as well. Another week to prepare for the Broncos likely isn’t really what Bill Belichick needs, but getting his two best players back is.
10. Las Vegas Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 15) Won 40-32 at Kansas City Welcome to the top 10 Las Vegas. Knocking off the defending champs was a great way to prove that the Raiders truly belong in the playoff conversation. It was one of the best games Derek Carr has ever played. Now the defense didn’t do a ton to help, but they did just enough. If Las Vegas can somehow find a way to produce like this offensively on a more consistent basis, this team could be scary. It is almost unfortunate the Raiders are heading into a bye week with all of the momentum they gained from this win.
11. New Orleans Saints: 3-2 (Last Week: 8) Won 30-27 vs. Los Angeles This was nearly a major set back, but Drew Brees and the offense did just enough to squeak by the Chargers. However, it is hard to completely ignore the Saints’ first half struggles. Los Angeles led 20-3 late in the second quarter. Justin Herbert, in just his fourth career start, threw for four touchdowns against the defense. That should be a red flag for this team going forward. The Saints seem to be hanging on right now, hoping that the return of Michael Thomas is going to save them. I am starting to worry this team might not really be a contender after all.
12. Cleveland Browns: 4-1 (Last Week: 16) Won 32-23 vs. Indianapolis It is hard to believe that this is the same team that got walloped by the Ravens in Week 1. Cleveland is capitalizing on an opportunistic defense and scoring at a really impressive rate. The Browns currently rank fourth in the league in scoring. What makes this win even more impressive is that they did it without Nick Chubb. I don’t think Cleveland is ready for contender status yet, but this team is one that no one should want to face right now. This style of play is hard to beat, but it is equally as hard to sustain.
13. Arizona Cardinals: 3-2 (Last Week: 14) Won 30-10 at New York Nothing like a good old pick-me-up to wash away a two-game losing streak. Kyler Murray wasn’t perfect, but Arizona did more than enough to batter New York. Then again, everyone has crushed the Jets this year. Still, the defense played well enough. Now it is time for the Cardinals to prove they are really a playoff-caliber team. Facing a Cowboys team without Dak Prescott might not seem like a huge test, but Dallas has a ton to play for and Arizona better not sleepwalk through that game.
14. Indianapolis Colts: 3-2 (Last Week: 14) Lost 32-23 at Cleveland What on Earth should we make of the Colts at this point? At first glance, it is easy to say the defense should have played better when you see it gave up 32 points. However, it is hard to ask more of a unit that had two interceptions and held the NFL’s top rushing team to just 3.8 yards per carry. Instead, it was Philip Rivers who once again proved not to be up to the task. With two interceptions, including a pick-six, a safety given up and no touchdown passes, Rivers cost the Colts an important game in the AFC wildcard race. I have said it before and I will say it again. Indianapolis has a roster ready to contend, they just don’t have a quarterback who can lead them to a championship.
15. Chicago Bears: 4-1 (Last Week 17) Won 20-19 vs. Tampa Bay Perhaps I am still sleeping on the Bears, but this proved to me that this team is definitely better than I initially thought. This defense means business and Nick Foles might be able to do just enough to help it grind out some wins. It will be interesting to see what Chicago decides to do next. They are a likely suitor for Le’Veon Bell given David Montgomery’s struggles and the injury to Tarik Cohen. Will the front office swing for the fences on a player who comes with an oversized personality? If the Bears are serious about competing, they might have to.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-2 (Last Week: 9) Lost 20-19 at Chicago This week, Tom Brady took care of the football, but the offense still could not finish drives. You aren’t going to win too many games when you have to settle for four field goals and manage only one touchdown. It is important to cut the Buccaneers a little bit of slack. Chris Godwin and Justin Watson were both out, although, Tyler Johnson stepped up well in their absence. Ronald Jones also had arugably the best game of his professional career. Still, the team stalling in the red zone that many times is concerning, no matter how good the defense was on the other side of the ball.
17. Miami Dolphins: 2-3 (Last Week: 22) Won 43-17 at San Francisco Miami came out swinging and boy did it land a haymaker. The team benefited a bit from facing a rusty Jimmy Garoppolo, but that should not take away from how thoroughly the Dolphins dominated this game. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked unstoppable, posting an unbelievable 99.1 QBR. Defensively, Miami forced three turnovers and registered five sacks. This is the type of win that can build momentum, which means the Jets are in a world of trouble come Week 6.
18. Carolina Panthers: 3-2 (Last Week: 20) Won 23-16 at Atlanta I would have likely laughed at you five weeks ago if you told me the Panthers would have won three straight to take a share of the NFC South lead. I would have laughed harder still if you told me all three wins would have come without Christian McCaffrey. Yet, here we are. Carolina is finding its groove. This young defense is learning on the job and seems to be improving from week to week. Teddy Bridgewater looks like a franchise quarterback, smartly and efficiently leading the offense. It is too early to crown anyone yet, but the Panthers have to feel really good about their offseason remodel.
19. Minnesota Vikings: 1-4 (Last Week: 18) Lost 27-26 at Seattle Minnesota might be the best 1-4 team I have seen in a while. In their past three games, the Vikings have lost by a single point twice and picked up their first win of the year. Believe it or not, Minnesota largely dominated this game. They had a 13-0 at halftime. Then the wheels fell off for about two minutes and the Vikings were down 21-13. That cannot happen, nor can it be overlooked in evaluating this team. Mike Zimmer has this team competing with some of the best of the league, but he needs to see the results start going his way soon, or he will be out of a job.
20. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-4 (Last Week: 20) Lost 30-27 at New Orleans Here is a quick peek inside my process. Every week, I copy the entirety of last week’s rankings and paste it into a new document to start editing. It usually works really well, but it almost caused an issue this week. That’s because the Chargers blew a close game in which they had a huge first-half lead against an NFC South team. It is hard to know which aspect of this game to focus on. Despite another disappointing result, which mostly boils down to two missed kicks, Justin Herbert was sensational. If Los Angeles finishes 1-15, but knows it has it franchise quarterback, this season will be a success.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-3-1 (Last Week: 24) Lost 38-29 at Pittsburgh Philly needs help in its secondary. Ben Roethlisberger threw for three touchdowns and the Eagles surrendered 38 points. It is time to pick up the phone and call Earl Thomas, Eric Reid or some other free agent for assistance. It is costing them their ability to run the ball too because they are going down early in games. Granted, outside of a 74-yard run from Miles Sanders, the second-year back managed just six yards on 10 additional carries. The Eagles look like they are in a lot of trouble.
22. Dallas Cowboys: 2-3 (Last Week: 24) Won 37-34 vs. New York There is really no positive way to spin this. What happened to Dak Prescott flat out sucks. However, Dallas is about as well positioned as it could be for an injury at quarterback. Andy Dalton is experienced and a solid spot starter. Given how bad the rest of the NFC East looks and the skill position players he has available to him, the Cowboys are still likely the favorite in the division. It is going to be interesting to watch this team going forward.
23. San Francisco 49ers: 2-3 (Last Week: 13) Lost 43-17 vs. Miami Oh boy. This is bad. In addition to the mounting injuries, San Francisco now has a quarterback controversy on its hands. Jimmy Garoppolo might have been rusty, but he looked terrible in his return from injury. For the second straight week, C.J. Beathard looked better in relief of the game’s original starter. Granted, he didn’t play a whole lot better. Additionally, the defense is a mess, the offensive line is struggling and I don’t know where the 49ers are going to get reinforcements from. Things are only going to get harder with the Rams up next.
24. Houston Texans: 1-4 (Last Week: 25) Won 30-14 vs. Jacksonville The post-Bill O’Brien era got off to a good start. Shoutout to Romeo Crennel for picking up his first win as a head coach since 2012. Even David Johnson looked pretty good, topping 100 yards in the win. There were still some troubling signs. Deshaun Watson took a lot of risks in this game, resulting in a pair of interceptions. Thankfully, the defense stepped up and Watson threw three touchdowns to help make up for the mistakes. Houston gets a fresh start, but I still don’t think the pressure is totally off. This team has no incentive to lose this year without a first- or second-round pick in the upcoming draft. I expect the Texans to keep fighting to get better with the part they currently have.
25. Atlanta Falcons: 0-5 (Last Week: 23) Lost 23-16 vs. Carolina It was only a matter of time, but another disheartening loss cost Dan Quinn his job. General manager Thomas Dimitroff went with him. Arthur Blank even went as far as to cast doubt on Matt Ryan’s future with the franchise following this loss. Atlanta’s famed offense of first-round picks once again failed to put up points and the defense can’t stop a nosebleed. While one loss rarely defines a season, this has the potential to be a pretty memorable one if the Falcons decide to move on from Ryan in the offseason.
26. Detroit Lions: 1-3 (Last Week: 27) Bye Week We have seen Bill O’Brien and Dan Quinn kicked to the curb in successive weeks. Will Matt Patricia be next? A loss to the Jaguars might just seal his fate. Patricia was brought in from New England to instill a winning culture and build a championship-caliber defense. With a 10-25-1 record in two-plus seasons and the Lions ranking last in rushing yards allowed per game and 29th in points allowed per game, I think it is safe to say he has failed to do both those things. Keep in mind, Detroit fired Jim Caldwell after a 9-7 season to hire Patricia.
27. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-3-1 (Last Week: 26) Lost 27-3 at Baltimore The high of the first win of the season and the first win of Joe Burrow’s career faded very quickly on Sunday. Burrow spent much of the game running for this life, taking seven sacks and getting absolutely no help from his ground game in the process. Defensively, it was a different story. Cincy held Lamar Jackson in check all afternoon. The reigning MVP finished with 4.9 yards per attempt passing and an interception. That doesn’t really make losing 27-3 to your division rival feel any better, but it is nice to have a silver lining.
28. Denver Broncos: 1-3 (Last Week: 28) Bye Week Few teams benefit as much from a week off as the Broncos. Denver gets a chance to allow KJ Hamler, Noah Fant, Jeremiah Attaochu, Mike Purcell and maybe even Drew Lock a chance to get back on the field in Week 6. Lock would obviously be the most significant development. While the defense was able to overcome Brett Rypien’s three interceptions against the Jets, that is a much tougher task against the Patriots. Denver still has an outside shot at a playoff run. Dropping to 1-4 makes that outlook a whole more bleak.
29. Washington: 1-4 (Last Week: 29) Lost 30-10 vs. Los Angeles As just about everyone did this week, let me take a moment to acknowledge the incredible feat that Alex Smith accomplished in returning football. He took it a step further by weathering an onslaught from the Rams defense. Aaron Donald along had four sacks. Los Angeles’ defense racked up eight in total, with Smith taking six of them. The offensive line has deteriorated quickly in Washington and no matter who is at quarterback, I don’t see things getting better before it is stabilized.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-4 (Last Week: 30) Lost 30-14 at Houston That Week 1 win over that Colts feels awfully long ago right about now. Jacksonville has a pedestrian defense with no pass rush. Offensively, the team moves the ball up and down the field, but does not score anywhere near enough points. It is hard to pinpoint exactly where the main issue lies with this team. It is much easier to see now why everyone expected the Jaguars to end up with the first overall pick.
31. New York Giants: 0-5 (Last Week: 31) Lost 37-34 at Dallas While it was a bitterly close against a division rival, it was good to see the Giants’ offense show signs of life. Granted, it might have been against the worst defense in the NFL, but beggars can’t be choosers. On the flip side, Daniel Jones continues to struggle with ball control. He was strip sacked and the fumble was returned for a touchdown. Miraculously, Jones did not throw a touchdown pass, despite New York finishing with 34 points. Ultimately, this team cannot find a way to win, even with the Cowboys rolling out their backup quarterback.
32. New York Jets: 0-5 (Last Week: 32) Lost 30-10 vs. Arizona Adam Gase Watch enters what feels like a sixth year. The Jets lost by double digits yet again and barely looked competitive against a reeling Cardinals team. To top that off, New York released Le’Veon Bell on Tuesday night after failing to find a trade partner for him. The franchise knows it is destined for a top-five pick and a potential reset on its rebuild. The sooner the team decides to move on from Gase so it can start evaluating players like Sam Darnold and Lamical Perine, the better.
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Four weeks down and we know a lot more about the NFL than we did at the beginning of September. Some things have stayed the same. Kansas City is clearly the best team in the league and the Jets are unquestionably the worst. Others have changed quite a bit. The Bills are a Super Bowl contender while the Cowboys look like a big pretender.
The league also spent much of the week dealing with the fallout of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Titans had 18 players and staff members test positive for the coronavirus. Jeffery Simmons tested positive as recently as Monday, which puts Tennessee’s Week 5 game vs. Buffalo in jeopardy. With their game this week against the Steelers already postponed, this could be a real headache for the league office.
On top of that, Cam Newton tested positive on Saturday for the virus, ruling him out of Week 4’s matchup with the Chiefs. It also caused the game to be delayed to Monday night from it’s original Sunday afternoon start time.
In the midst of the health concerns, players still found a way to remind everyone about what is truly important. Za’Darius Smith did it best with a simple, but powerful message for Breonna Taylor written on his undershirt. Important reminder to everyone that there are much bigger things than football.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-0 (Last Week: 1) Won 26-10 vs. New England Patrick Mahomes and company were not quite as dynamic as we have come to expect, and yet the Chiefs still coasted to victory. Kansas City is a much more well-rounded team this season. The defense has allowed only 17.5 points per game so far, the second best average in the league. Sure, they got an easier assignment facing a Cam Newton-less Patriots offense in Week 4, but this came one week after shutting down Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. At the quarter mark of the regular season, there is a distinct gap between the Chiefs and every one else in the NFL.
2. Seattle Seahawks: 4-0 (Last Week: 2) Won 31-23 at Miami Russell Wilson had a disappointing game by his standards. With only two touchdowns and his second interception of the season, Wilson needed some help from the defense. Seattle’s secondary was not perfect, but two timely interceptions of Ryan Fitzpatrick were enough to hold off the resilient Dolphins. This was a tricky game for the Seahawks, who played in the early window after traveling 3,300 miles. Taking care of business is always important as Russ and company stay unbeaten.
3. Green Bay Packers: 4-0 (Last Week: 3) Won 30-16 vs. Atlanta Don’t look now but the Packers are 4-0 and seem to be gaining momentum. This team has not been at full strength in recent weeks, but that has not stopped them from comfortably winning football games. Green Bay’s has outscored opponents by an average of 12.75 points per games, the best mark in the league. With a bye week coming up, Davante Adams has a chance to get back to 100 percent before the Packers get a showdown with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
4. Baltimore Ravens: 3-1 (Last Week: 4) Won 31-17 at Washington That is much more like it. Granted, Baltimore played a much worse opponent in Week 4 than the undefeated Chiefs, but this was the style of play we have grown accustom to for the Ravens. Lamar Jackson was off and running, including a career-long 50-yard touchdown run. Mark Andrews dominated the red zone with two touchdowns of his own. The defense also had a good outing with a forced fumble and three sacks. Baltimore is capable of playing even better than this, but this performance was more than enough to take care of Washington.
5. Buffalo Bills: 4-0 (Last Week: 5) Won 30-23 vs. Las Vegas The Buffalo Bills are here to stay. Buffalo is 4-0 for the first time in 12 years. Strangely, the offense continues to carry this group. After a season where the Bills defense finished third in yards allowed and second in points allowed, coach Sean McDermott cannot run it back. Buffalo is giving up 25 points per game and the sixth-most passing yards in the process. If McDermott can get the defense back to its 2019 form, this might be the best team in the league.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-0 (Last Week: 7) Bye Week It was an unexpected bye week for the Steelers. With the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak, their Week 4 matchup was pushed to Week 7 instead. It gives the Steelers a chance to recharge before heading into a brutal 13-game stretch (not including the playoffs) without a break. Pittsburgh should still reach the postseason regardless, but the task certainly becomes tougher with this new schedule.
7. New England Patriots: 2-2 (Last Week: 6) Lost 26-10 at Kansas City Cam Newton might have earned some MVP votes after we saw how badly the Patriots offense struggled without him. Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham combined for four turnovers, including a horrible pick-six on a Julian Edelman dropped pass. Lost in the lackluster showing was that New England could still run the ball. The Pats racked up 185 yards on 5.1 yards per carry. Defensively, this was a solid showing as well. Take away the pick-six and the Chiefs offense only managed 19 points. A healthy Newton will get this team back on track.
8. New Orleans Saints: 2-2 (Last Week: 8) Won 35-29 at Detroit It was not perfect or pretty, but New Orleans got the job done to get back to .500. On one hand, you have to worry about how slow the team started. Going down 14-0 to Detroit is not a great sign. On the flip side, the Saints then rattled off 35 unanswered points before the Lions finally climbed back into it. Drew Brees was fantastic, posting an 88.2 QBR in the win. New Orleans still has a lot to work out going forward, but Michael Thomas should return to face the Chargers. That should make things run a whole lot smoother.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3-1 (Last Week: 9) Won 38-31 vs. Los Angeles I never thought I would write this, but if Tom Brady could just take care of the football, the Buccaneers would be winning games a lot more comfortably. But it’s 2020, so anything can happen. Brady threw yet another pick-six against the Chargers and the Bucs got off to a very rocky start, trailing 24-7. Los Angeles made enough mistakes to let Tampa back into the game though. Brady took advantage and finished the day with five touchdown passes. There are clear signs of how dominant this offense could be when healthy and clicking. I don’t know if we have seen a complete game from this Buccaneers team yet, which is scary considering the 3-1 record.
10. Los Angeles Rams: 3-1 (Last Week: 10) Won 17-9 vs. New York This was ugly. Los Angeles’s offense looked great on the first drive of the game and then disappeared for pretty much the rest of the contest. If not for the fact they were facing an inept Giants offense, the Rams likely would have lost this contest. Jared Goff had a pedestrian day, totaling 200 passing yards and a touchdown. The revived run game fell apart as well to the tune of 2.5 yards per carry. Give the defense credit for holding things down with five sacks and an interception, but L.A. needs to play better than this.
11. Tennessee Titans: 3-0 (Last Week: 12) Bye Week The Titans will be a very interesting team to watch over the next few weeks. The league is investigating whether or not Tennessee violated coronavirus protocols in the lead up to Week 3. With more players continuing to test positive, it is possible their Week 5 game will be pushed back after the team already took an unexpected bye in Week 4. Mike Vrabel says the team has been embracing the virtual preparation, but I have to imagine there is going to be some rust to knock off once the Titans finally return to the field.
12. Indianapolis Colts: 3-1 (Last Week: 14) Won 19-11 at Chicago The Colts defense looks like the real deal. Indianapolis has the second-best point differential in the league, tied with the Chiefs. Allowing a league-low 56 points through four games makes that possible. All of that should be taken with a grain of salt though. Indy has faced the Jaguars, Vikings, Jets and Bears. They have a combined record of 5-11 so far. The Colts face a much better test against the red hot Browns, fresh off a 49-point outing in Dallas. If the defense shuts down Baker Mayfield and company, then they will earn their spot among the NFL’s elite.
13. San Francisco 49ers: 2-2 (Last Week: 13) Lost 25-20 vs. Philadelphia The injury bug finally caught up to the 49ers. Even with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle back in action, it was the absence of Jimmy Garoppolo that loomed large in San Francisco’s loss. Nick Mullens threw two interceptions, including the game-clinching pick-six. C.J. Beathard replaced him and sparked the offense, but it was too little, too late. The defense did its best despite playing shorthanded. Picking up three sacks and holding the Eagles offense to just 18 points is enough to win in most weeks. While the loss is disappointing, better days are on the horizon for the 49ers.
14. Arizona Cardinals: 2-2 (Last Week: 11) Lost 31-21 at Carolina Arizona crumbled again as Kyler Murray continues to struggle. After two weeks as the league’s exciting young team, the Cardinals have fallen apart in back-to-back weeks. Murray does not deserve all the blame. The defense could not contain Teddy Bridgewater or slow down the running game. Arizona has a lot of young pieces playing in key positions, but this was still a letdown. The Cardinals should find the cure to all that ails them in Week 5. A trip east to face the Jets should get them back on track.
15. Las Vegas Raiders: 2-2 (Last Week: 15) Lost 30-23 at Buffalo It was another close, but not good enough type performance from the Raiders. Derek Carr was spectacular, but the defense could not slow down Josh Allen. Carr also did not get much help from a usually reliable running game. Josh Jacobs managed an unimpressive 3.2 yards per carry. Las Vegas also lost the turnover battle 2-0, which was likely the difference in the game. One sack and zero turnovers is simply not enough from the defense. The Raiders are still very much in playoff contention, but definitely feel like they are on the fringes of that conversation.
16. Cleveland Browns: 3-1 (Last Week: 19) Won 49-38 at Dallas Wow. For a lot of reasons, wow. Cleveland dropped 49 points on Dallas, by far the most in Week 4 and the most by any team so far this season. By the scoreline, this game looks like an old fashion shootout. However, the Browns led 41-14 entering the fourth quarter. The Cowboys cut that lead all the way down to three before Odell Beckham Jr. finally put the game away. Turnovers continue to be the key to Cleveland’s success. It owns a league-best +6 turnover margin through the first four games. There is still some bad news though. Nick Chubb is going to be out for an extended stretch. Thankfully, the Browns have one of the deepest backfields in the league. They will need it heading into a matchup with the Colts.
17. Chicago Bears: 3-1 (Last Week 17) Lost 19-11 vs. Indianapolis The Nick Foles era didn’t get off to the best of starts. The veteran quarterback had his own shortcomings, averaging only 5.9 yards per attempt and throwing an interception. He got absolutely no help from his running game though. Chicago averaged a woeful 1.8 yards per carry. It went up against a tough Indianapolis defense, but that level of inefficiency is unacceptable. On the other side of the ball, the defense that Matt Nagy keeps praising needs to step up. One sack and no forced turnovers is not good enough for a team that boasts Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson and Robert Quinn. The Bears definitely look a lot more like pretenders than contenders after Week 4.
18. Minnesota Vikings: 1-3 (Last Week: 23) Won 31-23 at Houston Good to see Minnesota finally get in the win column. The Vikings rode their offensive formula to success: feed Dalvin Cook and don’t ask Kirk Cousins to do too much. Minnesota threw the ball just 22 times in the win, but put up 31 points in the process. Cook rumbled for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, clearly leading the way for the offense. Not to be overlooked though, Adam Theilen and Justin Jefferson both went over the 100-yard mark as well. This type of big-play attack off play action feels sustainable, even against better competition.
19. Los Angeles Chargers: 1-3 (Last Week: 20) Lost 38-31 at Tampa Bay The Chargers looked poised to shock the NFL. Leading 24-7 with halftime closing in, Los Angeles was nearly halfway through what would have been a statement victory. This was only two weeks after the Chargers had nearly knocked off the defending champs after all. Youth and inexperience showed up again though for L.A. Tampa outscored them 31-7 the rest of the way. Losing by seven to the Buccaneers is not a bad result, but the Chargers still have a bitter taste in their mouth. On the bright side, Justin Herbert is continuing to look like a franchise quarterback in just his third NFL start. He needs to step up with Austin Ekeler out for the next four to six weeks.
20. Carolina Panthers: 2-2 (Last Week: 26) Won 31-21 vs. Arizona No Christian McCaffrey, no problem! That’s not exactly fair to the reigning Offensive Player of the Year, but Carolina moved to 2-0 without their superstar running back. Teddy Bridgewater tore up the Cardinals defense and the combination of Mike Davis and Reggie Bonnafon continue to do their best to shoulder the load with McCaffrey out. Defensively, the Panthers frustrated Kyler Murray. He might have finished with three touchdown, but he lost a fumbled and managed just 4.3 yards per passing attempt. Turns out Carolina might not be tanking for Trevor Lawrence after all.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: 1-2-1 (Last Week: 24) Won 25-20 at San Francisco It wasn’t pretty, but the Eagles earn an all-important win on the road to (somehow) move atop the NFC East. Despite the horrendous start from the Eagles offense this season, it’s almost as if the past three games don’t matter because Philly is back in the driver’s seat in the division. Injuries continue to plague the team, with the offensive line and receiving corps completely banged up. If the Eagles can slowly start to get healthy, specifically getting Lane Johnson, DeSean Jackson and Jason Peters back, this team should have what it takes to reach the postseason in a historically weak NFC East.
22. Miami Dolphins: 1-3 (Last Week: 21) Lost 31-23 vs. Seattle Miami hung tough once again with one of the best teams in the NFL. That won’t count for much come the end of the season, but it gives Brian Flores plenty to focus on as he continues to rebuild this roster. The negative side of Ryan Fitzpatrick showed up on Sunday. His two interceptions were likely the difference in the game. A 10-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter was nice, but it was way too late for that to be the only Dolphins drive that resulted in a touchdown. Miami feels really close to breaking through to the next level, but there is still work to be done.
23. Atlanta Falcons: 0-4 (Last Week: 22) Lost 30-16 at Green Bay In a nice change of pace, the Falcons never had a lead to blow in a disappointing loss to the Packers. Green Bay looks like one of the best teams in the NFL, but other clubs have had no trouble putting up big numbers on that defense. Atlanta’s offense never really got into gear. Julio Jones left with a hamstring injury. Calvin Ridley was inexplicably held without a catch. Matt Ryan was left turning to former undrafted free agent Olamide Zaccheaus in big moments. The defense was a mess, but it is hard to defend Aaron Rodgers when the entire secondary is injured. Jaylinn Hawkins and Damonate Kazee joined Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen among the many injured Falcons defensive backs. At some point though, Dan Quinn has to be held accountable and his seat is only getting warmer.
24. Dallas Cowboys: 1-3 (Last Week: 16) Lost 49-38 at Cleveland Dak Prescott is putting up video game numbers, but yet the Cowboys are a botched onsides kick away from being 0-4. He is currently on pace to shatter the single-season passing record, averaging over 400 yards per game. The issue is, he is almost always playing from behind because of Dallas’ inability to play defense. Prescott dragged the team back into the game and made the final score look somewhat respectable. In the end it was the turnovers (two by Prescott and one by Ezekiel Elliott) that killed the Cowboys’ chances. Given the defensive deficiencies, Mike McCarthy might have to focus more on establishing the run to keep his own defense off the field. There is no question Prescott can dominate through the air, but Dallas is struggling to hang on in these shootouts.
25. Houston Texans: 0-4 (Last Week: 18) Lost 31-23 vs. Minnesota The first NFL coach is gone. This was probably two years after it should have happened, but better late than never. I firmly believe that Bill O’Brien the general manager ruined Bill O’Brien the coach. Houston’s roster has a ton of holes, but the team has no cap space and no draft capital. Up until this year, O’Brien had been able to coach up what talent he did have and reach the playoffs each year. His house of cards finally fell though after the Texans dropped their fourth game in a row. Perhaps this will be the shock to the system Houston needs to get going in the right direction, but there is also a good chance that a long rebuild is ahead.
26. Cincinnati Bengals: 1-2-1 (Last Week: 29) Won 33-25 vs. Jacksonville Book it! Joe Burrow picked up his first NFL win on October 4, 2020. Maybe one day we will look back on this as the start of a great run for the Bengals. Until then, Burrow could use some help. He benefitted from facing a lifeless Jaguars pass rush and Joe Mixon going back to his Oklahoma days, but the defense still almost blew it. It is unlikely Mixon will rack up 180-plus yards and three touchdowns every week, but it is good to see him step up and complement Burrow in this offense.
27. Detroit Lions: 1-3 (Last Week: 25) Lost 35-29 vs. New Orleans After taking a week off from blowing early leads, the Lions got back to doing what they do best. Detroit went up 14-0 quickly against New Orleans and then seemingly went into hibernation for roughly two quarters. When Matt Stafford and company finally woke up, it was 35-14 and the Lions ran out of time to pull off a comeback. Overall, it was another disappointing outing for Matt Patricia’s squad. Detroit has shown it is more than capable of hanging tough with the league’s top teams, but it just can’t seem to do so for 60 minutes.
28. Denver Broncos: 1-3 (Last Week: 27) Won 37-28 at New York Despite their best efforts to hand the Jets the game on a silver platter, the Broncos headed back to Denver with their first win of the season. Brett Rypien tossed three interceptions, including a pick-six to keep things interesting. Lucky for him, the defense made Sam Darnold’s life hell, racking up six sacks. Melvin Gordon also came to play, rolling for 107 yards and two touchdowns against a usually stout New York run defense. If Rypien can settled down and avoid committing so many turnovers, Denver should be fine to weather the storm until Drew Lock gets back.
29. Washington: 1-3 (Last Week: 28) Lost 31-17 vs. Baltimore Another week of wondering when the Dwayne Haskins experiment is going to end is in the books. The second-year quarterback actually put up some good counting stats with 314 yards passing. However, his 31.5 QBR tells the full story. Washington finished 4-for-13 on third down as well. Unfortunately for Haskins, he is not getting any help from his running game. Washington managed a meager 69 yards rushing on a lowly 3.1 yards per carry. The best way to help a young quarterback is by establishing the run. Until the offense can do that, Haskins is going to continue to struggle.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-3 (Last Week: 30) Lost 33-25 at Cincinnati That Week 1 win over the Colts feels like a long time ago now. Jacksonville once again could not score enough points to keep up with its porous defenese. Gardner Minshew and company once again kept things competitive, but Joe Burrow had all day to throw and Joe Mixon tore the defense to shreds. This was always going to be a rebuilding year for the Jaguars, but I think the front office would like to see a bit more fight on the defensive side of the ball.
31. New York Giants: 0-4 (Last Week: 31) Lost 17-9 at Los Angeles While there are those that still question New York’s decision to draft Saquon Barkley second overall in 2018, the former Penn State running back might just be proving his worth from the sidelines. The Giants have not scored a touchdown in either game since Barkley’s injury. Daniel Jones has picked up the slack rushing the ball in a lot of ways because of the lack of proven options at running back. The Giants actually ran the ball fairly well against the Rams, but still seemed to fall apart when they needed a big play. That is Barkley’s specialty.
32. New York Jets: 0-4 (Last Week: 32) Lost 37-28 vs. Denver Another week, another disappointing loss. Perhaps more disappointing for all Jets fans is that reports surfaced almost immediately after the loss to the Broncos that the team would not be firing Adam Gase. There were even some rumblings that his job might be safe for the rest of the season. Beyond that being a huge mistake, it is killing the growth of their franchise quarterback. Sam Darnold did everything he could on Thursday night to carry the Jets to a win, but his terrible supporting cast and the horrible play calling from the sidelines once again let him down. New York does not deserve a player as loyal and committed to seeing it succeed as Darnold when it clearly has not shown the same commitment to him. The six sacks he took and sprained AC joint he suffered only serve to highlight the disparity.
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